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Gay Rights Activists Hold Silent Protest of Anti-Gay Laws

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 09 Jun 2014 03:56pm | comments
Todd Allen (center) and Dee Smathers (right)
Y'all means all. That's the new slogan of a group of gay rights activists who are calling on Governor Phil Bryant to vocally support their cause. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the activists want Mississippi to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and pass an anti-discrimination law.
The activists held a silent protest outside the governor's mansion where they covered their mouths in black tape to symbolize Governor Bryant's silence on their call.
protest organizer Todd Allen says the Governor needs to take steps to make Mississippi a more welcoming place for gay people.
"We are asking him to make our climate better. And there are simply things to do you could advocate for non-discriminatory legislation for all state employees. You could recognize marriage outside of the state. There's simply things to do," Allen said.
Mississippi has a constitutional ban on gay marriage and does not legally recognize same-sex marriage performed in other states.
That complicates matters for gay couples living in the state like 73-year old Dee Smathers.
Smathers married her partner of 28 years in Massachusetts last year. 
She says her wife works for the state but because the state does not recognize their marriage she cannot access benefits that are extended to heterosexual couples like health care.
"There's a stack of papers like this with wills, continuing powers of attorny, health care powers of attorny, everything you could think of. Trying to cover all the legal bases that just that one little piece of paper, that Mississippi marriage license would take care of," Smathers said. 
The activists plan to distribute 'y'all means all' stickers at the annual New York-Mississippi picnic where the governor is expected to attend. 
Governor Bryant responded in a written statment saying: "“Mississippi voters overwhelming voted for a constitutional amendment in 2004 defining marriage between a man and woman. I stand by the will of the Mississippi voters.”


Todd Allen (center) and Dee Smathers (right)



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